We live in a time where we go in to watch a superhero movie and come out questioning our morals.
Superhero movies these days are a serious business, but NBC’s Powerless brings back the quirkiness of superhero comics, a world where a pair of glasses distinguished Clark Kent from Superman.
How did they do it? By switching the focus from the powerful to the powerless.
Emily Locke (Vanessa Hudgens) dreams to move away from her fly over state (superheroes really just fly over the state) and move to Charm City, where all the action happens. We meet Emily on her first day of her job as the new director of the research and development team for Wayne Security, which invents ways regular people can live a happier and safer life when superheroes and villains fight on their front lawns.
What’s wonderful about Powerless is it’s aware it’s in a comic book world, but presents that as if it’s a completely mundane thing. Explosions happen in a mid-air fight in the background as Emily struggles to get her new co-workers to like her. The subway gets knocked off the tracks during an early morning battle, and everyone is annoyed by the inconvenience.
In Powerless, they just so happen to live in a world with superheroes and they just so happen to work for Bruce Wayne (who they of course have no idea is Batman). The superheroes and villains are important because that is why they are employed, but that is not why we are watching.
It’s actually funny, a sort of Community-esque show, maybe partly because Community’s own Danny Pudi co-stars. There are jokes throughout the first episode that are consistently thrown out there, but they are quick. If you blink, you might miss one. The cast is great; alongside Vanessa Hudgens and Danny Pudi are Alan Tudyk as the boss Van Wayne, the unimportant cousin of Bruce Wayne, and Jennie Pierson, Christina Kirk, and Ron Funches to bring in the various personalities that make a show unique.
At last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, a pilot of this show was shown, but the entire episode was scraped and then remade. As a result, it probably made for a more polished sitcom pilot than most in terms of quickly setting up the world, characters, and what the show is about.
Powerless is an enjoyable show and you don’t need to be a superhero fan to enjoy it because this is a show about the characters, who may be powerless, but who can save the day all the same.